Things Can Actually Touch Each Other myth

Can Things Actually Touch Each Other?

Can Two Things Ever Touch?

Things never touch because everything is made of atoms. Atoms contain electrons and electrons repel each other. This is basic physics. What we call touching is our brain interpreting the electromagnetic force between atoms created by electron repulsion. Thus, whether or not two things can or cannot touch depends on what we mean by touch. This is explained in detail below. [1][2][3]

  • All matter is made of atoms. Atoms contain electrons.
  • Electrons are negatively charged and they push away from each other when they get close enough (electron repulsion).
  • Our brains perceive the electromagnetic force created by electron repulsion as “touching” (it’s actually more like hovering at 10^-8 meters).
  • If two particles actually touched it would create a nuclear reaction.
  • The only things in the universe that can actually occupy the same space are bosons (like the photon).

A video explaining why two things never “touch”.

TIP: Smaller quantum particles like quarks also repel, but since electrons are the main entity in this process, we will focus on them here. You can look at our elementary particles page for more information on the smaller particles, or check out the Pauli exclusion principle which shows that identical “fermions” (matter particles) can’t occupy the same space (and thus helps to explain aspects of “the touching issue” in more technical terms).[3]

TIP: The electron is a fermion. All matter is comprised of fermions.

How Do Atoms Work?

Before we can understand why nothing actually “touches,” we have to take a quick look at how atoms work.

In simple terms, atoms are mostly empty space. At the center of that empty space is a tiny nucleus containing almost all the mass of an atom, like a marble in an empty soccer stadium. Surrounding the mass of the nucleus are little packets of negatively charged energy called electrons, which are held in place by electromagnetic force like a magnet.

In general, electrons have negative charges and protons have positive charges; in nature particles with a negative charge always repel each other, and those with opposite charges always attract.

TIP: Electrons aren’t tiny stationary dots in planet-like orbit around the nucleus (like the old model of an electron might suggest). Rather, electrons surrounding an atom exist in a state of probability (quantum superposition), moving at fractions of light speed (about 1% of light speed). This creates an “electron cloud.” Each electron in an atom orbits a nucleus at about 1% of light speed (thus creating a cloud of probable and actual locations). Learn more about how electrons work in atoms.

TIP: The concept of “charge” is central to particle physics. See elementary particles for a deeper understanding of charge.

Electron Repulsion

Particles, in general, are attracted to particles with an opposite charge, and they repel particles with a similar charge. Electrons are naturally attracted to protons but repelled by similarly charged electrons. This fundamental behavior of particles (including electrons) prevents them from ever coming in direct contact with each other.

Instead of coming into direct contact, the electrons and other particles have electromagnetic force fields that interact with each other and cause repulsion and attraction.

ALTERNATIVE VIEW: The video below argues that the point at which attraction and repulsion are balanced should be considered “contact.” On this page, we state whether or not two things can touch (AKA make contact) depends on our definition of touch. The counterargument in the video paired with the argument on this page helps show why this all does somewhat depend on what we mean by the term “touch.”

Do Atoms Ever Touch?

Going into detail: Everything in the universe is massless energy particles interacting with each other. There isn’t really anything to touch, even electrons are made of massless energy particles. We know that splitting an atom creates a lot of energy. That is because there is a lot of pure energy bound in “matter” as “mass.” This same intense power in a small space is essentially why nothing ever actually touches. And that is only the tip of the mass-energy iceberg.

How To Define Touch?

We know that we don’t touch things, we simply get 10^-8 meters close. However, we also know that when we dig a little deeper into the way things actually work, energy is both a particle and a wave. Or rather, a particle is an excited state in a wave-like field.

Since particles are fields all we are really saying is that fields can touch, but the excited particle states can’t. Electron fields overlap, but their particles don’t.

Is this field touching actually touching? Should we just redefine “touching” to include forces acting on each other? If we do, then we can argue that there is lots of touching going on (and we could say that when two magnets repel, they are touching)!

Since particles never touch but fields do act on each other, do we simply need to throw out the idea of actual physical touch, and realize that touch is relative to perspective? Or should we focus more on the fact that everything is composed of energy fields at its core? These are good questions.[3]

A video questioning if it is simply a matter of needing to redefine the concept of “touch”.

Examples of Electron Repulsion in Real Life

Let’s look at two everyday life examples of electron repulsion in the real world. First, a simple example with no explanation, then a more complex example of electron repulsion.

The “We Already Have Hover-boards” Example

When the atoms in your shoes touch the atoms in the floor they aren’t actually touching. Rather the electrons in your shoe’s atoms are repelling the electrons in the floor’s atoms. The same works for the chair you may be sitting on, or that one-wheeled “hover-board” that is only really hovering on an atomic level.

The takeaway You are currently floating at an extremely small distance (about 10^-8 meters) above the surface that you think you are standing or sitting on.

“HandClap” Example

In real life, two physical systems of particles can never touch because the particles they are made from can never touch. Luckily things don’t need to actually “touch”. In the physical universe, objects quantize to the Planck length and emit fields. If you try to clap your hands, the space between your hands gets infinitesimally smaller, but instead of your hands never moving they just move toward each other in Planck-length frames. Quantum particles can exist in a state of superposition and jump frames. When your hands get close enough, the electrons in your hands repel each other. Electron repulsion is a type of electromagnetic effect.

Your hands have never literally touched, but your clapping action has been completed despite “the infinite” space. That is the way that mathematics works within our physical universe. The Energy between two hands is exchanged resulting in a clap. The energy used to perform the action has shaved a tiny bit off the total mass of the system as mass-energy was used for clapping. A  small amount of energy has even escaped as a sound wave.

Why Do We Feel We Can Touch Things?

We feel we can touch things because the electromagnetic force of electrons pushing on each other creates a sensation that tells our brain we are touching something. Literally, the sensation of touch is our brain interpreting the electromagnetic field created by electron repulsion. The sensation we get depends on the type of atoms that form the matter we are touching (i.e. how the molecules and elements are structured).

Why Do Different Things Feel Different When We Touch Them?

Different things feel different because of the way our brain interprets their atomic structure. It works like this:

The different types of atoms that make up the periodic table elements hold different amounts of electrons (based on their proton number). When different atoms with different electrons bind together with other atoms it creates the matter we are familiar with. When we touch different types of matter we feel friction based on the atomic structure of the matter (its mass, density, evenness, etc). The friction we feel becomes an electrical signal in our neurons and that signal is interpreted by our brain as sensation.

All sensations related to touch, including hot, cold, pain, and pleasure are a reaction to the atomic structure of the matter we are “touching”. We can store these sensations as sensory memories helping us to remember not to touch a hot stove, but to jump right into a warm bath.

What if Two Things Actually Touched?

When two particles touch they create nuclear fusion or fission (depending upon what happens when they touch). In other words, two things actually touching would cause a nuclear reaction. This is explained by E=mc2. So the bottom line, forces can be exchanged and fields can overlap, but two things can never touch.


Whether or not two things can truly touch depends more on the definition of touch than it does on the reality: all particles are separated by electromagnetic force.


  1. Why Physics Says You Can Never Actually Touch Anything:“. Retrieved Oct 31, 2015.
  2. What does it mean for two objects to touch?“. Retrieved Oct 31, 2015.
  3. Pauli exclusion principle“. Retrieved Feb, 19. 2016.

Author: Thomas DeMichele

Thomas DeMichele is the content creator behind,,, and other and Massive Dog properties. He also contributes to MakerDAO and other cryptocurrency-based projects. Tom's focus in all...

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Micheal Johnson Supports this as a Fact.

Atoms are mostly empty space so if 2 electrons collide wilst touching than the entire atom will explode the is a “force feild ” stoping that from happening.

John C Hill Did not vote.

Also, this just happened when two rocks collided in space. That’s like a methed out tweeker taking apart a lab top throwing all the pieces up in there air and when it hits the floor it’s all put back together with Windows 10 on it. Science can only prove what people can comprehend.

John C Hill Did not vote.


Talpur G.R Did not vote.

It is the result or effect of the “touch´´ that matters. `Touch´ is the phenomenon percieved by 5 senses. We can see it, hear it, taste it and offcourse touch it !
It is an sensory term. When you go beyond sensorial ranges there exist much complex phenomenons and we can name them too. like here in this case influence of fiields or what so ever but y necessay to mix it up with a sensorial term or an aparent term of `touch´. Actually we call (liguasitically) this field influences or interactions “touch´. Almost every thing and phenomenon has an apparent explanation or name and an other deep or inside explanation. Both the interpretations are true but in their own frame of reference !

Mr Intellectual Did not vote.

And another thing!
If atoms actually touched, we’d probably have nuclear fusion all the time, especially with air-covered Earth.

Larz Macciato Did not vote.

So when she asks you if you cheated… you can say you never touched her. ??

mr,man Did not vote.

you can touch nothing

yeet Doesn't beleive this myth.

so when nuclear fusion occurs in stars, the atoms do touch?

Abigail Nagel Doesn't beleive this myth.

this is mind-blowing and confusing but cool 🙂

Arturo Doesn't beleive this myth.


Mimmo Did not vote.

Siete dei ciarlatani

Robert Wampler Did not vote.

OK, I understand the electron repulsion, and understand two things can never touch, but, for example, if two things can never touch, how does sperm fertilize an egg? Or is everything just an illusion?

Jane Santos Did not vote.

This man is a stooge. Atoms are NOT mostly empty space.

Noel Doesn't beleive this myth.

Why do I leave a fingerprint on glass if this is the case.

Catherine Did not vote.

Question please someone answer.What about when are body touches water or is soaking in it . Do our atoms touch the water atoms ? £

Jefferey Did not vote.

No they do not touch

Penelope Doesn't beleive this myth.

I think we’re just overthinking this. Who cares if we actually touch or not? I can feel it, so I don’t care what else is going on if things seem to be touching.


I completely agree with this statement/ hypothesis how ever how are we able to pick up objects if we can not physically touch others electrons? Please reply

Rafael Supports this as a Fact.

It is a fact, they do touch, I know I can argue about it

Jennifer Supports this as a Fact.

this is so bazaar!

deeznuts Supports this as a Fact.

So that’s why matter and antimatter destroy each other, because they actually touch because the anti-electron (+1 charge) attracts the electron (-1 charge)

Alex🤓 🐨 Doesn't beleive this myth.


Alex? ? Doesn't beleive this myth.


Lawry Miller Did not vote.

Can you explain how conception works then because I get the feeling that on a biological level conception defies this concept that nothing actually touches

Gordon Did not vote.

IT is a fact alright…but most are so fixed IN the world that they are like fish in water–they don’t know they are wet (that is an intelligent fish might). SO the next big question might lead to; then if it is all mostly fields and electromagnetism and too information…then what’s to say we are not in some strange and totally weird simulation? Max Tegmark has written books on such (think he is a professor at MIT?). Arthur Eddington (look him up) made the comment once that, ‘the world is stranger than you suppose…’ then corrected himself and said, ‘…no, it is stranger than you CAN suppose!’ If you made a list of the ‘strange’ things in the world–with just some basic intelligence you might be amazed just how long the list is…!


This is all common knowledge.
If you think it’s a myth… do some more research.
I know I said this twice, three times now; but I only voted once.

Bill Did not vote.

Hogwash! The atoms don’t touch. So what. The energy we create touches therefore we touch! To me physics is so full of it. A student in physics at my work told me the other day that heat is energy and cold is not energy or it is the lack of energy. What crock. It is still energy just a lower state of energy.


You proved it!


i think it is a myth